MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Three Minnesota congressmen and one U.S. Senate candidate who flew on Air Force One with President Donald Trump shortly before he tested positive for the coronavirus moved quickly to get tested Friday, as did other political figures who came close to the president during his visit to Minnesota this week.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also crossed paths with Trump on Wednesday when she attended a Minneapolis-area fundraiser. Spokesman Ian Fury said Noem was “not a close contact” of Trump or anyone else who tested positive.
About 40 people attended the fundraiser, Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan told Minnesota Public Radio News. A host of the $200,000-per-couple fundraiser, Cambria countertops CEO Martin Davis, did not immediately respond to telephone messages and attempts by The Associated Press to reach him through his company.
Republican U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn and Pete Stauber flew with the president to and from his rally in Duluth on Wednesday night. Hagedorn, who is being treated for kidney cancer, posted a photo of the three of them on his Facebook page.
GOP Senate candidate Jason Lewis, a former congressman, was part of the greeting committee at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport when Trump arrived Wednesday afternoon, along with Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, his wife Maralee and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt. Lewis also accompanied Trump to Duluth on Air Force One. They all stood near Trump on the tarmac as they spoke and posed for pictures for about five minutes, but did not shake hands, according to Daudt and Lewis.
None of them wore masks at the time, video of the arrival showed. All four of them got tested Tuesday in preparation for Trump's visit and came out negative.
Lewis went ahead with a busy day of virtual events Friday, including a debate with incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith. He said in an interview that he felt fine and that he's already been tested four or five times in the last month because Trump and Vice President Mike Pence each have visited Minnesota twice in the last month.
Lewis said he was advised to wait a day or two to get tested again because the virus might not show up right away due to its incubation period. He said he would self-quarantine at least until he gets his test results back, “just to play it safe,” and then probably hit the campaign trail again.
Neither Lewis nor the three sitting congressmen attended the fundraiser. Lewis said they waited together in a conference room on Air Force One, “watching some ball games and getting caught up" until the short flight to Duluth.
“As I recall, the president came to the doorway once and just said ‘Hey guys, how’s the trip? You having a good time? Good. Let's go get ‘em,' A little pep talk. It couldn't have been more than 30 seconds," Lewis said. He added that they were probably 20 feet behind behind Trump in the hallway before the president walked down the stairs in Duluth and that none of them joined Trump on stage, as they were kept in a holding area.
Emmer, who chairs the House GOP campaign arm, said in a statement that he was not experiencing symptoms but had gotten tested and expected to get the results within 24 hours.
Hagedorn's office said he expected got get his test results back later Friday, and that he had spoken directly with Dr. Brian Monahan, the congressional attending physician.
“Because Congressman Hagedorn’s interactions with the president and others who tested positive did not meet the criteria of close contact — within a distance of six feet for a duration of more than 15 minutes — Dr. Monahan advised the congressman to continue his official duties, such as voting on the House floor, wear a mask, and delay air travel until the results of his COVID-19 test are confirmed as ‘negative,'" the statement said,
Stauber also said he contacted the attending physician and was following his recommendations, including getting retested Friday.
Daudt said in a statement that he was not experiencing any symptoms, but that he was getting retested Friday and would remain in self-quarantine until results come back. He did not attend the fundraiser in Shorewood.
Gazelka's spokeswoman said he was feeling fine Friday morning, but following state and federal health guidelines and advice from his doctor would get tested and begin quarantining at home. He told WCCO Radio that both he and his wife were in close contact with Trump, and that the would self-quarantine for two weeks.
Carnahan, who is married to Hagedorn, said she wasn't at any of the events involving Trump in Minnesota due to a busy campaign schedule that took her elsewhere. She abruptly canceled a news conference she had scheduled for Friday to react to the news about the president.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Democrat and a frequent target of Trump's, criticized him sharply for what she called “actively spreading a deadly virus.” Omar, who said earlier this year that her father died of COVID-19, said in a statement that she wouldn't wish it on anyone. But she criticized Trump for going unmasked in Minnesota this week, saying he exposed hundreds of people in a state where cases are rising.